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Optical/IP

Ixia Gets an App-titude

Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) has announced the first product based on its $17.5 million acquisition of NetIQ Corp.'s (Nasdaq: NTIQ) Chariot source code, a software program that allows enterprises and carriers to simulate a mixture of up to 125 traffic types on a single network (see Ixia Distributes NetIQ in NA).

Renamed IxChariot, the software has been around for six years, but only in the U.S. Ixia has extended the marketplace to global customers, and interest in it is growing fast, the firm says.

IxChariot can emulate all major enterprise traffic, including VOIP, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Outlook, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), and SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP) business transactions. "Carriers and enterprises can simulate email traffic, for example, to see how switches and routers deployed in the network will handle it," says Chris Buerger, product manager for IxChariot for Ixia.

Before this tool, Buerger says administrators simply blasted the network with any traffic. Now they are able to see which traffic types put more strain on the network and adjust QOS policies accordingly.

Analysts say this is part of an accelerating trend towards closer monitoring and scrutiny of traffic patterns on a given network. "Enterprises rolling out multi-million-dollar networks required hundreds of PCs to simulate application traffic, and additional test tools to generate Layer 2-3 traffic. It's much more manageable now," says Shekar Gopalan, VP at Frost & Sullivan.

Of course, not everybody thinks it's dandy. Spirent Communications, one of Ixia's competitors, says the downside in the approach is that in order to get around intrusion detection systems, IxChariot only emulates the packets, rather than implementing the actual protocols. This means a user can't see how the application would function in the real world, according to Spirent.

Ixia says this is total nonsense as the product isn't designed to emulate packets in the first place. In other words, it's like complaining that IxChariot doesn't work like a speedboat, when it was designed to be a car.

A side benefit for Ixia, in picking up the Chariot source code, is its history with the Wi-Fi Alliance. Chariot became the de facto test application for products based on the 802.11 specification, simply because it was the only game in town, according to Buerger. Now, with 802.11 networks springing up in MacDonald's and Starbucks across the country, sales of Chariot for WiFi testing are racing along, the company says.

Ixia also acquired a meaty customer list via the NetIQ deal. On the service provider side, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON)and Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) are customers, using the product to simulate application traffic patterns across the Internet and private WAN networks to differentiate the quality of their service offerings. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701), and Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL) are among the network equipment vendor customers using IxChariot to stress-test their switches. Coca Cola is the largest enterprise user of the software.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Boardwatch

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